Lady Lions rally past Rams, 58-52
SAGU wins 3rd in-a-row and 5th in last 7 games
Winston, defense combine to rally during 16-3 surge
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Riding the hot hand of Nia Winston (Garland, Tx / Panola JuCu, Lakeview Centennial HS) and a 'No Entry' defense, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University women’s basketball team overcame an eight-point second half deficit to defeat Huston-Tillotson University, 58-52, on Monday night at the Sheaffer Center.
It was the third straight win for the Lady Lions and fifth in their last seven games. It moved them past Tillotson and into eighth place in the Red River Athletic Conference standings.
Coach Arlon Beadles’ squad, now 8-12 overall and 5-9 in the RRAC, hardly resembles the unit that dropped ten-in-a-row earlier in the season. (Current standings below)
The Lady Rams have been both wild and harnessed at various times in the season, according to their second year head coach Tanesha Barefield. HT slid to 5-15 in all games and 5-11 in the Red River. Falling for the eighth time in nine outings, five have been single-digit setbacks.
“I don’t understand it,” she said after the game. “We’re too inconsistent.”
“We were playing real well then began settling for jump shots,” the former player and assistant at Prairie View A & M explained. “Their (SAGU) zone is simple but it was effective. I give SAGU credit; they played their game.”
Tillotson’s starters, however, led for much of the game with some impressive play of their own. They were more athletic and quicker than their counterparts from Southwestern. The Rams built leads of eight points in each half but could not pull away as the resilient Lady Lions kept fight back.
Finishing the game on a 20-6 run
In arrears, 46-38 with 11:23 left in the game, SAGU put together a methodical 16-3 surge to grab a 54-49 advantage (4:50 to go) they would not relinquish. A pair of Winston free throws with 6:39 showing on the clock put Team Purp front, 50-49, and they dug in their claws. Their interior defense was unyielding.
“We were determined not to allow them come back like they did in Austin,” said one player. SAGU lost the lead in the last two minutes on December 10 as Tillotson rallied to win, 68-62.
Winston scored eight of the team’s 16 points as they seized control of the game and the scoreboard. The defense, which appeared to step out and widen their zone, held the Rams scoreless for a 6:11 stretch during SAGU’s run.
Jirah Rodriguez (Georgetown, Tx / Georgetown HS), who was much more effective in the rematch, agreed. “It was our defense,” she said. “We really wanted this game and we were determined. Plus, I think we played smarter than we did in the first game.”
Rodriguez scored 10 points in each game. In December she was 4-of-12 from the floor, missed a pair of free throws and had four turnovers. On Monday the sophomore made 3-of-7 tries, including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, went 2-for-2 in foul shots, and committed just two turnovers. She fouled out in Austin and didn’t get cited for a single violation at home.
Whether it was the Lady Lions defense or sudden icy shooting by the maroon-clad visitors, the results were the same. After taking the eight point lead, Tillotson made just one of their final 16 shots, including 0-for-5 from long distance. Additionally, the Lady Ewes gave the ball away seven times down the stretch.
Shaquita Roberts (San Antonio, Tx / Byron Steele HS) blocked one of the six shots she rejected and SAGU owned the boards late in the game. Gabby Bruner (Peaster, Tx / Peaster HS), back from a concussion she suffered ten days ago, teamed with Roberts and Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) gobbled up rebounds like a farmhand at hay time.
Sophomore guard Andrea Lugo (San Antonio, Tx / Somerset HS) who struggled acutely on offense, was a key player on the defensive end when the outcome was on the line. She more than made up for her offensive miscues by making three clutch steals, converting one into a basket.
HT shot 41% (11 of 27) in the first half when they took a 32-28 lead into the locker room. The second stanza was another story. They connected on just 19% (6 of 31), including two-of-ten triples.
“We kept doing the same thing and expected a different outcome,” said Coach Barefield, quoting Albert Einstein’s famous ‘insanity’ line.
"SAGU came off screens well and attacked more as the game wore on," she commented. "We couldn't stop their penetration." Barefield, 27, specifically mentioned the play of Rodriguez, Cox and Roberts as the difference in the latter stages of the game.
As for her Rams, the coach admired the way "Erica Cray pushed the ball up the floor." The cat-quick guard caused Southwestern match-up problems.
After a Rodriguez trifecta from the corner tied the game at 17, Tillotson went on top, 29-21. Winston sank a pair of free throws and drained a 3-ball on a dish from Rodriguez to draw SAGU within 29-28. Kevetta Williams scored inside with two seconds left in the half for a 32-28 Tillotson advantage.
With their backs now against the wall, Tillotson, was playing the first of four consecutive conference road games in a row. Of their final nine RRAC contests, six are out of town.
Team and player statistics
The Lady Lions made 44% of their second half shots (11 of 25) and finished the game (19 of 50) converting 38%. HT was at 29%. They owned a 40-33 margin on the glass, including a 12-9 edge on the offensive end.
Winston led all scorers with 21 points, sinking 7-of-8 from the charity stripe and firing in a pair of treys. Playing the entire forty minutes, she made only a pair of turnovers.
Roberts added 12 points and ripped down a game-high 14 boards. Rodriguez and Cox each netted 10 points, with the latter reeling in nine rebounds, five offensive. Bruner was credited with four caroms and a blocked shot in limited playing time.
The SAGU bench played hard though they combined to make only 2-of-11 shots while making seven of the team’s 20 turnovers.
Tillotson was led by Williams and LaKesha Taylor, who each netted 12-points. Williams was tops on the boards with nine.
Lady Lions on the road
SAGU takes to the road for their next two games; Saturday, February 4 at the University of the Southwest (Hobbs’ N.Mex) and Feb. 6 at Dallas’ Paul Quinn College.
The game at USW has a 2:00pm start, Mountain Standard Time. Monday’s game begins at 5:30pm (CST).
Southwestern is only 2-8 on the road. They are 6-4 in the friendly confines of the Sheaffer Center.
The Lady Lions next home games are huge; Feb. 9 and 11 against Texas Wesleyan University and Our Lady of the Lake University.
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|Our Lady of the Lake||11-4||.733||16-5||.762||3.0||8-1||8-4||0-0||Lost 2|
|RV||Texas Wesleyan||10-4||.714||15-5||.750||3.5||9-2||6-3||0-0||Lost 2|
|Jarvis Christian||10-5||.667||10-5||.667||4.0||5-2||5-3||0-0||Won 3|
|Texas College||6-9||.400||6-14||.300||8.0||4-5||2-7||0-2||Won 1|
|SW Assemblies of God||5-9||.357||8-12||.400||8.5||6-4||2-7||0-1||Won 3|
|St. Thomas - Houston||4-11||.267||6-14||.300||10.0||5-7||1-7||0-0||Lost 2|
|Paul Quinn||3-10||.231||4-15||.211||10.0||4-5||0-10||0-0||Lost 3|
Key: Left column is for national ranking. Langston is 10th in this week's NAIA Coaches Poll, while both LSUS and Texas Wesleyan received votes, but did not crack the Top 25. RRAC indicates each team's won-lost record in games against fellow members in the confereence. GB - Games Behind the first place team.
For more information, go to www.redriverconference.com.
The Top 8 teams qualify for the RRAC Tourrnament, which will be hosted by SAGU on Friday and Saturday, March 2 and 3, with the finals played on Monday, March 5. Pairings: 1st vs 8th, 2nd vs 7th, 3rd vs 6th, 5th vs 4th.